You are a cat. You are bored. You want to knock shit over. That’s pretty much what Catlateral Damage is in a nutshell.
Catlateral Damage is a game whose development was led by Chris Chung, where you play as a cat that knocks stuff over. I’m not really oversimplifying things either, that’s the whole point of the game. Like what, you expect some fantastical fever dream? We all can’t be Cats here.
You pick a cat and head into an objective mode where you clear through a set of levels or a sandbox (excuse me, litterbox) mode where you can take your time breaking things. As a cat, you can swipe things off of counters and shelves with your left and right paws. You only get points if the thing you’re swiping is on the floor or if it’s broken; if it lands on the bed, fuck you, it doesn’t count even though it should.
Objective mode has you knocking down a certain number of objects within a time limit, with a few bonus objectives dedicated to knocking over a number of specific objects. Along the way, you can collect power ups to improve your cat’s movement and swiping strength by interacting with objects cats love to play with. But like, it’s not as if you actually need these upgrades, because the time limit is too generous.
For most of the time, you’re just swiping stuff off tables. While there’s occasionally events that give bonus objectives like hunting down a mouse or chasing a red dot, those are very few. It’s mostly just… knocking things over, something that will get old super fast. And also, sometimes the events are just stupid bullshit like “ooh wow there’s disco lights now.”
Meanwhile, litterbox mode is just the same without objectives.
Catlateral Damage is built on the joke premise of “aren’t cats cute jerks?” And really, that’s the only joke it has. Compare to fellow “laundering asshole behavior through a funny animal” game, Untitled Goose Game. The premise is indeed that you’re an awful goose, but the challenges in that game present different ways to express that awfulness. Here, it’s almost entirely knocking things off of shelves.
Even with different settings, there’s no change in the game’s structure or challenges. In challenge mode, you can get an alternate level 4 by breaking open a special object and it took me to this haunted evil laboratory area and I was initially excited to see if it would change anything. It’s just another house with a haunted lab skin. Who cares.
You can unlock more cats through completing certain achievements and you can collect pictures of cats by finding them in levels and knocking them to the ground. And it’s just. Whatever. If you want to look at pictures of cats, just go on the internet.
There is a VR version of this game though, and I imagine that the experience will feel at least a bit different. After all, you’re more directly in the shoes of a rampaging cat, so the game may be more cathartic. Because hey, sometimes we just want to break things.
But for me, this wasn’t very cathartic. Catlateral Damage is just fun for like 10 minutes, and while it’s competent in what it does, it’s not exactly an experience that will stick. Like unless you want to be a cat that badly, you can probably find more satisfaction anywhere else. Go watch Cats instead. It’s not good, but you’ll probably feel something from it, unlike the nothing experience I’ve had with this game.